Senate Hearing on UC Executive Compensation

California Senate Higher Ed Subcommittee Hearing, February 8, 2006

By Kevin Roddy

In the face of an unending stream of scandals, the State Senate Education Committee, chaired by Senator Jack Scott, called UC President Robert Dynes literally on the carpet yesterday, with a few surprises and a few altogether predictable moments. UC union members were there in force, with an articulate AFSCME representative serving as spokesperson for all the UC unions. UC-AFT members Ken Firestein, Maryly Snow, and I were among those who testified in a brief public comment period after the scheduled speakers.

Because some Regents who wanted to participate could not be there, a followup hearing is planned for the 22nd of February, where Dynes will testify again. Senator Scott promised that UC employees will have a half hour to comment at that hearing. Let us know if you'd like to attend with us.

The Sacramento Bee and San Francisco Chronicle have both published excellent reports on the hearing, though neither account mentioned Senator Gloria Romero's expression of "outrage" at the scandal. Senator Speier commented that the legislature itself needed to take some responsibility for the continuing abuses, which also reflected legislators' failure to fund the University adequately and to enforce public accountability. Facing the barrage of questions on ethics and UC policies, President Dynes seemed calm. But those of us who have previously witnessed him and his predecessors being grilled by legislators know that the calm is actually nonchalance: no one will be fired.

President Dynes, in his statement, said he had come to the University of California because of its fame, but that he and his colleagues had been concerned that top administrators and faculty were being lured away because of the University's noncompetitive salaries. He said he took full responsibility for the scandals, confessed to failure in leadership, said he was troubled by recent revelations by the newspapers that were inconsistent with what he called his "moral compass," and apologized. Yet his answers to some of the senators' more pointed questions were equivocal, and the senators did not seem reassured. Asked if he felt he had been well advised by his subordinates, Dynes replied, "Not always." When Senator Speier wondered if anyone had been fired due to the recent scandals, he hesitated
and then replied, slowly, "Some people have changed positions."

Senators referred angrily to a report written in 1992 by a retired former staff member of the Legislative Analyst's Office. That year, administrators came before the same committee to answer questions about similar scandals, and promised to rectify those problems and make the University more accountable and transparent. Senators observed that nothing appears to have changed. In fact, as the testimony revealed, the administration still has not provided information requested by the CPEC on the legislature's behalf some months ago. When asked to explain the administration's failure to respond, President Dynes replied that it was an error, "a lost letter." Later, he spoke of a larger systemic problem of poor communications, claiming that he himself cannot get information.

During the public comments period, I reminded the senators, for the record, that when I had commented at Senator Speier's hearing last spring that the University's practices were not at all transparent, President Dynes had jumped up and vehemently contradicted me, insisting that the University was at that time absolutely transparent. That, too, is on the record.

Librarians Ken Firestein and Maryly Snow both scored excellent points on the administration's behavior toward librarians in their recent round of bargaining. Firestein asked the legislators for more clarity, when they next allocate funds for UC employee raises, about whether those funds are intended as a COLA, since the administration chose to reserve part of the funds for other purposes (merit raises), and also delayed the raise until October. As a result, he said, librarians are receiving only 1.5 percent of the 3 percent that they should have received this year. He also asked that the higher education labor law (HEERA) be revised to give the factfinder's report the same force as the binding decision of an arbitrator.

Snow commented that while UC workers love their jobs and are deeply committed to the University, at the bargaining table, the administration's bargaining team "treats us like dirt." She pointed out that while UC administrators justify their own exorbitant compensation packages based on the cost of living in California, the competitive market for administrative talent, and the difficulty of recruiting top candidates, they dismiss as
"anecdotal" the same arguments when made by librarians at the bargaining table, insisting that "We'll have to do a multi-year exit-interview study to see if we can prove that you're having trouble recruiting. But the executives didn't have to give themselves a multi-year salary survey to see if they needed to be compensated more." Librarians say they should be compared to CSU librarians, because UC librarians are leaving to go to those colleges, where librarians are paid "$10,000 more, at all levels," and to community colleges where they also make more. The administration's bargaining team dismisses that argument too as "anecdotal," and refuses to consider the comparison with CSU though they won't explain why. Finally, Snow noted that after trying to get the small perk of professional development funds, "which we [librarians] bargained for," increased to pay the full cost of a single conference per year, about $1500, librarians had to settle for a $50 increase from $600 to $650 per librarian per year.

To view part or all of this hearing, go to calchannel.com, search the archives for 020806 (the date of the hearing), and download and view the file (or any part of it) with the Windows Media Player. Your colleagues' comments are at the end. You can find yesterday's articles in the Sacramento Bee and the San Francisco Chronicle at sacbee.com and sfgate.com. Or cut and paste the URLs below into your browser.

Kevin Roddy
Lecturer, UC Davis
UC-AFT Vice-President of Legislation

To view a video of the hearing on your Windows Media Player, go to:

http://www.calchannel.com/search.php?date=020806&source=All&type=All&title=&Search=Submit

Here are references for the newspaper articles:

SENATORS DEMAND ANSWERS ON UC PAY
Unreported compensation raises ire at panel's hearing.
By Tanya Schevitz, Todd Wallack, Chronicle Staff Writers
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/02/09/MNG8JH5HBO1.DTL

UC officials take a beating
Senators chastise leaders over the lack of oversight on pay and perquisites.
By Pamela Martineau -- Bee Staff Writer
http://www.sacbee.com/content/news/california/story/14168044p-14995696c.html